Talented young director, Jared Hess, created a sensational college-kids hit with Napoleon Dynamite six years ago and returns to our screens with Gentlemen Broncos. The film portrays the painful experience of growing up a nerd, although it’s never quite clear why that’s so hard when everyone else seems to be at least as nerdy as his protagonist.
Perhaps this is why we never feel empathy with Benjamin (Angarano), even after he receives his tenth knock over the head. Full of low-level gross-out jokes (which at the film’s Berlinale screening only made one woman scream with hysterical laughter while everyone else sat stoically suffering), the story of a teenager whose sci-fi manuscript is plagiarized by a bestselling novelist (Clement, of “Mighty Conchords” fame) has lots of small moments, and actually very good acting, but loses focus fast. Somehow, Hess doesn’t know whether he wants his audience to laugh with, about or around his characters.
GENTLEMEN BRONCOS | Directed by Jared Hess(USA 2009), with Michael Angarano, Jermaine Clement, Sam Rockwell. Opens in Berlin cinemas on May 27.